Discover Internships: UIHC Heart and Vascular Clinic

“I am so excited for the skilled I learned in the clinic to be present in my future in the medical field.” Check out Christina’s narrative on her time interning for UIHC’s Heart and Vascular Clinic!

This past semester, I was lucky enough to be involved in an internship that took place in The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinic’s Heart and Vascular Clinic. Here, I worked with medical assistants, pharmacists, surgeons, doctors, nurses, cardiovascular therapists, and many more to get a complete understanding of the full care that goes into one of these patients as they visit the clinic. On the more hands-on side, I worked with the medical assistants to complete tasks such as checking in a patient, charting, getting vitals, doing lab draws, helping with EKGs, and simply spending time with the patient as they waited for the next provider to come in. I was there from the beginning of January to the beginning of May, every other Wednesday and Thursday from 8 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon.

This is what a typical appointment room looks like. Here, I was able to get to know the patient as I checked them in, and in some cases was able to follow a patient as they worked with the interdisciplinary team that included medical assistants, nurses, pharmacists, surgeons, doctors and so many more!

Through spending so much time in the clinic, I was able to experience many highlights over the course of the semester. For one, some of the patients I was able to spend times composed the highlight of my week. Many of these patients have been working with the clinic for years as they hope to keep their condition in check. Because of that, many of the patients have amazing relationships with the employees which means they come into the clinic with a great sense of comfort and hundreds of stories to share with me both about their friends who work at the clinic and stories through their condition. Another highlight that I will never forget was my first day in the clinic. One nurse instantly took me under her wing and right off the bat explained that she was going to make my experiences in the clinic unforgettable. With this, she asked what I was initially comfortable with doing, asking how I felt about doing a blood draw. I instantly started sweating because no way could I poke someone with a needle and be okay. Instantly she knew I was not the most comfortable doing this. She took me back to an empty appointment room, bringing in her phlebotomy (lab draw) kit. Looking at me straight in the eye, she simply states, “You are going to draw my blood, right now”. I did not think this was going to happen on my first day, or even my first week as I was hoping to ease into things. Shaking, pale and sweating, I did my first lab draw on a nurse who gave me step by step instructions in a unique way as I had a needle digging into her arm. Because of this, although I do not think I gained complete confidence, I was able to do a lab draw almost every day I was in the clinic. There were a lot of highlights, yet the relationships I made, both with the patients and the nurses, was something I will never forget about the clinic.

This is the entrance back to the appointment rooms. Here, I would call back patients and attempt to bring them comfort as they headed into a potentially anxiety-inducing appointment

This experience taught me a lot about myself and allowed me to grow in countless ways. One of the biggest things I learned was that I truly have gotten better at taking opportunities and going with them. I am a very anxious person, so finally learning to simply say yes absolutely changed my experience in the clinic for the better as I knew I’d get the most out of the experience by taking it into my own hands. Another thing I learned that I had always known deep down but did not know exactly until I was able to put into practice is that I am decently good with people. Through working with 20+ patients and employees a day, I became a positive presence and got to discover how to talk to each person as them being individuals and not simply treat everyone with a cookie cutter attitude. In the end, I do think I grew as a person and as a future nurse and I am so excited for the skilled I learned in the clinic to be present in my future in the medical field.

Author bio: Christina Aucoin is a nursing major with a minor in Spanish who is involved in Dance Marathon, Pi Beta Phi, undergraduate research, and volunteer work at the University of Iowa Volunteer Services Office.
Edited by: Abbey Jordahl, Honors Admin

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